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Security trends from across the pond

by Andy Clutton

PSI recently took a trip to Vegas to see what is happening in the US security market and find out how it differs from the UK sector in terms of trends and technology.

We all know America tends to do things on a grand scale while the British prefer to be a bit more reserved and stand in line; so while we have Blackpool they have Vegas. The tattoos, poverty-gap and seedy side of both are clear but the size of the US versions are much more apparent and the locals more plush, as was the carpet in the Sands Expo for the ISC West event – much softer than the rough stuff we get in UK exhibition halls. That aside, there are some important differences worth noting between the security markets and the drivers behind them.

It was quite clear that the buzz around the show was about business intelligence. Now that we have cameras that give us 7K video (as launched by Avigilon this month) and a host of manufacturers bringing out 4K units the quality of CCTV footage is starting to get to the stage that anything less than 720p is considered poor. With this raising of the resolution, the data being collected by cameras provides customers with far more information than the systems of previous times. And the use of this data leads to a difference in the markets.

To clarify, video analytics is nothing new. We have had the software/algorithms for some time but it is only now that the raw data itself is so good that they are taking a bigger hold and the creative types are constantly coming up with clever things you can do with the information.

In the UK we see analytics as having two purposes – security and business intelligence while in the US, chatting to various people at the show, the security side is by far the major thrust of analytics use, with loss prevention tools such as PoS being the next main use.

It appears that the US considers the technology to have a much bigger role to play in homeland security than we do in the UK where we’re seeing the dual role of security and business/marketing for analytics these days. Perhaps it is because we have lived with home-grown attacks and unruly neighbours for much longer than the States and are ahead of the surveillance game in that respect. Certainly many people felt that the UK market is far more mature and widely established and could be a template for US CCTV use in the future.

One thing that the US has that is more mature than in the UK is casinos and the number of cameras in those establishments paints a rosy picture for installers that get contracts in the new builds popping up all over the country.

Another difference involves the widespread adoption of cable TV networks in the US and the presence in the security market from vendors like Comcast that offer monitoring and remote system access to customers. In the UK we haven’t yet seen our broadband/TV/phone providers go down this route but the increase in fibre-based networking may lend itself to some such as BT or Virgin adding security to their portfolio of services.

This would affect the sales of domestic systems (perhaps in same way that basic smartphone/SIM services have with some security products) although it is likely that partnerships would need to be forged between the network provider and systems vendors. This could lead to some new work for installers although the US providers appear to run on quite simple DIY equipment. It will at the very least get domestic customers on the first step to security and may lead to upselling opportunities in a short period.

We may be far apart in miles, but we’re not miles apart in everything and the US market gives us an idea of how the professional security solution is seeing a clear division from the domestic, smart device based route. With the interconnectivity and internet of things the security markets both here and in the US could be experiencing a split in the market which may in the short term result in a drop in sales for some manufacturers while companies such as BeON, Ring and Uplink bring new home automation and security ideas to market. The longevity of these solutions and realistic practicality remain to be seen in the long term.

For more on our trip to the ISC West event see the May edition of PSI magazine.

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